Practices in England that want to retain control over which IT system they use have been advised to sign up to GP Systems of Choice (GPSoC) before April or risk losing their freedom to choose.
GPSoC pays for software licences and computer upgrades for systems not provided by local services providers (LSPs). But most of the capital funding for the programme is in this year's budget, meaning practices slow to take advantage of the programme could risk missing out.
'If the funding isn't there the PCT still has to pay up,' said Richard Gunn, of the iSoft user group. 'But the practice might find it gets a worse deal. There's a risk the PCT will say that the only way you can have any change of system is if you use an LSP system.'
Last week saw the launch of GP Choice, a website created by five of the IT National User Groups to ensure that practices were fully informed about the options open to them.
A spokeswoman for NHS Connecting for Health said its 'priority' was to ensure all eligible practices were signed up to GPSoC by the end of March.
Rumours persist that some PCTs are pressing practices to switch to LSP systems against their will. Dr Charlie Stuart-Buttle, of the EMIS National User Group, said many of the worst culprits were in the Yorkshire area.
'You can see practices being shepherded to change systems,' he said.
SHAs have an incentive to push LSP systems, because the provider is paid for making a certain number of systems available, irrespective of use.
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